Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Resources on Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness

eNotes search results for 'homelessness'. Please note that links in past issues of eNotes may become inactive over time. If you are looking for an item that has an inactive link, please contact Sonya Detwiler for assistance.

1. The State of America's Children 2017

Source: Children's Defense Fund

The Children's Defense Fund has published a new edition of its annual report (December 2017) on the well-being of children. The State of America's Children 2017 provides data on child population, poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, child nutrition, child health, early childhood, education, and more. Some of its findings are below:

  • Every 49 seconds a baby is born into poverty.
  • Every 47 seconds a child is confirmed to have been abused or neglected.
  • Nearly 70 % of children living in poverty are children of color.
  • In 2016, Head Start served only 5 % of eligible babies, and 54 % of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds.

The corresponding state fact sheets include one-page summaries of the status of children across the states.

2. Self-Assessment for Early Childhood Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness

Source: U.S. Department of Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and the Ounce

This self-assessment tool from the Ounce and ACF (Summer 2017) is designed specifically for welcoming and supporting families and children experiencing homelessness in early childhood programs. Child care and early education practitioners take on an important role in identifying families with young children experiencing homelessness, and connecting them to other community resources. Included are recommendations for responding appropriately to the unique needs of preschoolers and their families experiencing homelessness in five areas: Identification and Support; Removal of Barriers; Responding to Family Needs; Engagement in Strategic Collaboration; and Improving Collection, Reporting and Utilization of Data. Additional resources to support programs are also provided.

3. Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families

This updated Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile provides early childhood data of those experiencing homelessness in the U.S., including publicly available data for 2014-2015. Two new factors have been added:

  • % of families experiencing a high housing cost burden
  • % of low-income working families with young children under age 6

Some key national findings:

  • 1 in 20 children under age 6 experienced homelessness in 2014-2015
  • 100,874 children experiencing homelessness were served by Head Start and Early Head Start and McKinney-Vento sub-grants in 2015

See additional information for expanding early care and education for children experiencing homelessness.

4. Homeless Families with Young Children - Snapshot from the FY2016-FY2018 CCDF State Plans

Source: Office of Child Care

The Office of Child Care (OCC) has released a chart of activities related to Improving Access to High Quality Child Care for Homeless Families from the approved FY 2016-2018 Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plans that became effective June 1, 2016. The CCDF Plans offer a snapshot into current and planned efforts, initiatives and implementation plans for each State/Territory over the next two years through September 30, 2018. See also, a new 2-page brief from the OCC on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness (May 2017).

5. Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness

Source: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation - March 14, 2017

Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Family Options Study, Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness (2017, OPRE Report No. 2017-06), examines the well-being of young children 20 months after staying in emergency homeless shelters with their families. The brief explores young children's: pre-reading skills, pre-math skills, developmental delays, and behavior challenges. It discusses comparisons between children who experienced homelessness and national norms for children of the same age.

6. Interagency Policy Statement on Early Childhood Homelessness

Source: U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education - October 31, 2016

A new joint Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness (October 31, 2016) provides research, recommendations, and examples of how early childhood and housing providers can collaborate to provide safe, stable, and nurturing environments for pregnant women and families with young children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Learn more here. Infants in the first year of life are the group most likely to experience homelessness and almost half (more than 150,000) of children in shelters are under age 6. Research suggests that homelessness in the early years is harmful to children's development.

7. Aligning Early Childhood Programs To Serve Children Experiencing Homelessness

Source: National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - October 2016

A new resource, Aligning Early Childhood Programs To Serve Children Experiencing Homelessness (2016), compares preschool, Head Start, and child care policies for children experiencing homelessness. It can be used to help educators, service providers, and advocates understand changes due to the Every Student Succeeds Act, new Head Start Program Performance Standards, and new child care regulations.

8. Access to Early Childhood Development Services for Homeless Families with Young Children

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families - August 11, 2016

A new brief, Access to Early Childhood Development Services for Homeless Families with Young Children: An Exploratory Project (2016), examines the challenges of families with young children who are experiencing episodes of homelessness, especially those who are temporarily staying with others or in motels/hotels, and how they manage daily life. This and related resources are available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/interagency-projects/ece-services-for-homeless-children.

9. New Research on the Effects of Early Childhood Homelessness

Source: Children's Health Watch - June 2016

A new research report, Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children's Health (June 2016), finds that there is no safe level of early childhood homelessness. The younger and longer a young child experiences homelessness, the greater the cumulative toll of negative outcomes, which can have lifelong consequences for the child, the family, and the community.

10. Parental Preschool Choices and Challenges Among Families Experiencing Homelessness

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - April 21, 2016

Quality preschool education has been shown to have an important effect on later success in school, however only a small percentage of young children experiencing homelessness are enrolled in preschool. A recent study, A Qualitative Assessment of Parental Preschool Choices and Challenges Among Families Experiencing Homelessness: Policy and Practice Implications (March 2016), provided parents with an opportunity to talk about the issues that had the greatest influence on their children's preschool enrollment. Some key obstacles they identified included: housing instability, lack of outreach and information sharing by preschool settings; long waiting lists for enrollment; difficulties of enrollment lottery processes; scarcity of open preschool slots (especially those with subsidies); transportation challenges, lack of flexibility in schedules, and lack of access to social-support networks. The paper provides policy and practice recommendations that could make it easier for families experiencing homelessness to enroll their young children in preschool.

11. Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - January 8, 2016

Today, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile (January 2016), which provides a snapshot of data available for young children experiencing homelessness in each state. Quality early childhood education programs can help reduce the risks associated with homelessness by supporting children's learning and development in safe, stable and nurturing environments; however many vulnerable young children experiencing homelessness in the United States lack access to quality programs. This new resource can be used as a tool for communities in planning to meet the needs of these children.

12. Improving Homeless Families' Access to Child Care

Source: National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Ounce of Prevention Fund - Retrieved November 13, 2015

A new guide, Improving Homeless Families' Access to Child Care: CCDF State Guide (2015), provides information on best practices for serving homeless families and children; common barriers and challenges; a summary of requirements of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) related to homelessness; and a summary of opportunities available through the state CCDF Plan to improve access to high-quality early care and education for children experiencing homelessness. A companion Homelessness Self-Assessment tool is included to assist states in assessing their current policies and practices and identifying options to better support vulnerable children. It is recommended that states review the self-assessment tool before reading the guide.

13. The American Almanac of Family Homelessness

Source: Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness - November 3, 2015

The recently published American Almanac of Family Homelessness (2015) describes the situations and characteristics of millions of children and their families who experience the challenges of homelessness every year in the U.S., as well as efforts that are being made across the country to better identify and serve these children and families. The report finds that although the incidence of homelessness is greatest among children under age six, homeless children are under-enrolled in prekindergarten programs in a majority of states.

14. McKinney-Vento and IDEA: Serving Children with Disabilities Who are Homeless

Source: Office of Special Education Programs and National Center for Homeless Education - October 8, 2015

The following three new briefs from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) were highlighted on a recent national webinar hosted by NCHE and Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP):

15. Access to Services for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness

Source: National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - Retrieved March 13, 2015

A new report, Access to Early Childhood Programs for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Survey Report (March 2015), discusses findings from a national survey on the barriers to accessing early childhood services among young children and families experiencing homelessness and strategies for addressing those barriers.

16. The Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families - December 11, 2014

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently released The Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters as part of its early childhood work on the Interagency Workgroup to End Family Homelessness. The tool is designed to help shelter staff create environments that are safe and developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. It provides specific recommendations and information on how shelter environments, programming, policies, and staff can support early childhood safety and child development. Find additional resources at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/interagency-projects/ece-services-for-homeless-children.

17. America's Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness

Source: National Center on Family Homelessness - November 26, 2014

The National Center on Family Homelessness has released America's Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness (November 2014). The report finds that 2,483,539 children experienced homelessness in the U.S. in 2013. This historic high represents one in every 30 children. From 2012 to 2013, there was an 8% increase nationally in children experiencing homelessness. Children are homeless in every city, county, and state. The report provides trends by state and includes policy recommendations for addressing the issue.

18. Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness

Source: U.S. Department on Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families - Retrieved August 21, 2014

Children experiencing homelessness are at-risk for a number of negative outcomes and also face many barriers to accessing early care and learning programs that could help them to overcome the negative impacts of homelessness. A new paper, Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness (July 2014), highlights efforts by local Head Start and Early Head Start programs to connect with homeless service providers, in order to help children and families experiencing homelessness connect with high quality early care and learning opportunities. It was published by the U.S. Department on Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, .

19. Meeting the Child Care Needs of Homeless Families: How Do States Stack Up?

Source: Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness - Retrieved August 22, 2014

Homeless parents need to have safe and stable child care arrangements in order to work and participate in job training, education, and other programs essential to resolving their homelessness. Federal and state subsidized child care should be a resource for these families; however, homeless families face many barriers to accessing child care and homeless mothers are actually less likely to receive child care subsidies than poor housed mothers. Meeting the Child Care Needs of Homeless Families: How Do States Stack Up? (July 2014), a new report from the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICPH), finds that the majority of states do not have policies in place to ease and encourage homeless families' use of child care subsidies.

20. Promising Practices for Children Experiencing Homelessness

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Early Childhood Development - Retrieved July 29, 2014

A new brief, Promising Practices for Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Look at Two States (July 2014), provides an overview of the effects of homelessness on developing children from birth to age six and highlights work that two states - Massachusetts and Oregon - have done to improve early childhood outcomes for young children experiencing homelessness. The brief also presents recommendations for how states can learn from the policies established in Massachusetts and Oregon to develop their own interventions. It was developed by the Office of Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

21. Early Care and Education for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness

Source: National Center for Homeless Education - Retrieved December 20, 2013

Over half of children living in federally funded homeless shelters are five years old or younger and many more young children live in other homeless situations. A new brief, Early Care and Education for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness (Fall 2013), suggests best practices to facilitate collaboration between schools, service provider agencies, and early childhood programs to increase the enrollment of and provision of services to families with young children experiencing homelessness. It was developed by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE), in collaboration with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) as part of the McKinney-Vento Law Into Practice Brief Series. .

22. Improving Access to Early Childhood Care and Education for Children Experiencing Homelessness

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families - January 4, 2013

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently published a set of resources to help strengthen the ability of early care and education providers to serve young children experiencing homelessness. These include:

More 1.6 million children in the United States live on the streets or in homeless shelters and 42% of these children are under the age of six.

23. Video - Starting Life Without a Home

Source: ZERO TO THREE - April 2, 2012

ZERO TO THREE has produced a 7:34 minute video with highlights from a recent Congressional briefing on supporting homeless infants and toddlers. Starting Life Without a Home (2012) describes the negative effects of family homelessness on the developmental needs of young children and provides examples of successful intervention programs.

24. When the Bough Breaks: The Effects of Homelessness on Young Children

Source: Child Trends - February 16, 2012

Child Trends has published a new brief that looks at how homelessness impacts the development of young children. When the Bough Breaks: The Effects of Homelessness on Young Children (February 2012) reports that between 2006 and 2010, approximately 1.6 million children were homeless annually in the U.S. and about 40% of those children were under the age of six. The brief discusses research findings showing that preschoolers without a stable home are more likely to have a major developmental delay and higher rates of internalizing and externalizing behaviors than other children. It includes recommendations to help improve outcomes for these children, including access to high-quality child care and early education programs.

Another recently published Child Trends' brief, Frequent Residential Mobility and Young Children's Well-being (January 2012), looks at the demographic characteristics of young children identified as "frequent movers," and the association of frequent moves with their mental and physical health.

25. America's Youngest Outcasts 2010: State Report Card on Child Homelessness

Source: National Center on Family Homelessness - Retrieved January 26, 2012

A new annual report from the National Center on Family Homelessness shows that more than 1.6 million children (or one in 45 children) are homeless annually in America, an increase of 38% during the years impacted by the economic recession (2007-2010). America's Youngest Outcasts 2010: State Report Card on Child Homelessness (December 2011), ranks the 50 states from best (1) to worst (50) and offers recommendations for state and federal governments to help support families with young children who are at risk or currently experiencing homelessness.

There will be a free webinar overview about the findings in this new report on February 2, 2012 from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST. Learn more and register for the webinar online.

26. Office of Head Start Publishes New Online Lessons on Homelessness

Source: Office of Head Start - January 31, 2011

The Office of Head Start has published new online homelessness lessons designed to help programs increase awareness of and outreach to young children and families who may be experiencing homelessness. They are available online at http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/family/Family%20and%20Community%20Partnerships/Crisis%20Support/Homelessness/homelessness.html

27. Innovative Web Sites Provide Easy Access to Child Well-Being Data

Source: Child Trends - January 27, 2011

The Winter 2011 issue of The Child Indicator, published by Child Trends, highlights several Web sites that display child well-being data in innovative ways. One of the featured items, for example, is the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map, which displays the location of child care facilities, Head Start programs, and pre-K programs throughout the state. The Child Indicator also summarizes recent reports with new data on education, homelessness, health, and other indicators of child well-being. This issue is available online at http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2011_01_27_CI_ChildIndWinter11.pdf

28. New Initiative - Strengthening At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children

Source: The National Center on Family Homelessness - Retrieved October 28, 2009

Strengthening At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children is a new initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in partnership with the National Center on Family Homelessness, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and ZERO TO THREE. The initiative seeks to improve the housing, health, and development of homeless and at-risk mothers and children through education and better integrated systems. It supports locally-based partnerships that include housing/homelessness and child development agencies, as well as agencies that address family preservation, domestic violence, mental health, and substance use issues. To learn more, go to http://www.familyhomelessness.org/?q=node/46

29. New Report Finds One in Every 50 Children in America are Homeless Each Year

Source: National Center on Family Homelessness - Retrieved March 27, 2009

The National Center on Family Homelessness has released a new report entitled America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness (2009). The report documents the extent of child homelessness, provides comprehensive state-by-state data on the status of homeless children, describes the plight of these children and offers recommended solutions. It is available online at http://www.homelesschildrenamerica.org/

30. National Audioconference Series on Homelessness and How it Affects Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families

Source: Early Head Start National Resource Center - March 6, 2009

The Early Head Start National Resource Center is conducting a two-part national audioconference series that will address homelessness, how it affects expectant families and infants, toddlers, and their families, and how programs can respond. To learn more and to register for the calls go to http://www.ehsnrc.org/Activities/AudioConferences.htm

PART 1, Providing a Safe Haven to Expectant Families and Infants, Toddlers and Their Families in Your Program, will air March 25, 2009 2:00 - 3:30 pm EST. The registration deadline is March 16, 2009

PART 2, Creating Safe Havens through Community Connections: Serving Expectant Families and Infants, Toddlers and Their Families in Your Community, will air May 13, 2009 2:00 - 3:30 pm EST. The registration deadline is May 4, 2009.

  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P170001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2018 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute